An appeal is under way in the Vatican into a decision by a Cork diocese to defrock one of its priests for serial sexual abuse of teenagers and minors.
A secret canonical tribunal held by the diocese defrocked the priest, Dan Duane earlier this year. It is understood he was the subject of up to 11 complaints of abuse.
The priest immediately said he would appeal the decision and it’s expected that a decision will be reached on this appeal in the autumn, possibly as early as September.
Of the 11 Garda complaints lodged against the priest, just two ended in prosecutions and in both cases he was found not guilty.
The diocese has issued apologies and settled civil cases with at least five of his victims.
In its judgement last March, the canonical court “reached the decision with moral certainty” that the 75-year-old priest had sexually abused teenagers and minors when working as a priest in the diocese.
The judges stated that “the decision of the court as a result of their findings is that” he “should be dismissed from the clerical state”. The judges said the decision was not a recommendation but a decision.
Immediately, 75-year-old Duane, from Mallow, appealed the decision to the Apostolic Signature and Pope Francis, as he believed his defence was not “properly taken into account”.
Two years previously, at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin directed that Fr Duane be found not guilty of indecently assaulting a teenager. The judge made the direction on the grounds of the 30-year delay in making the complaint.
A month later, Fr Duane was found not guilty at the same court of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl 31 years earlier. This woman was one of the women who gave evidence to the canonical tribunal.
At the canonical hearing, three priests — two clerical canon lawyers and a notary — assessed the evidence given by the victims. All involved had to sign an oath of secrecy.
Once all evidence was heard, the canon law court drew up its report and its recommendations were sent on to the Vatican.
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